Coal / Energy / FirstEnergy

Company suspected of using plant closures to get subsidies

FirstEnergy Solutions will close its last coal-fired power plants, including the Bruce Mansfield plant in Shippingport, Pa. Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON, DC — “FirstEnergy Solutions, the power plant division of FirstEnergy Corp., filed for bankruptcy protection in April. The company has aggressively lobbied Washington for a federal lifeline for its ailing coal and nuclear facilities, which have been weighed down by low wholesale power prices and stiff competition from natural gas.

The proposed plant retirements of Bruce Mansfield in Pennsylvania and W.H. Sammis in Ohio add fuel to the debate surrounding coal plant closures. The massive facilities are in politically important states, and they buy coal from Murray Energy Corp., an Ohio mining company led by a Trump confidant. The political backdrop prompted some analysts to wonder if last week’s announcement was designed to prompt a response from the Department of Energy, which is considering a plan to head off premature closures by subsidizing the use of coal.

…In recent months, the Akron, Ohio-based company has taken steps to insulate itself against the liability of its bankrupt power plant division, striking a deal with FirstEnergy Solutions debtholders over its outstanding loans, Fishman noted.

What happens to its old power plants is less clear. The chief problem facing these coal and nuclear facilities is geographic, Fishman said. They sit atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation. The glut of natural gas in the region has made it difficult for them to compete.”

— Benjamin Storrow, E&E News

Read more